(I’m not your) Stepping Stone

I mentioned in my last post, I recently got satellite radio.  Let me tell you, this radio is my new favorite thing.

You see music has this way triggering memories.  Although science tells us that smell is more closely linked with your memory due to its connection to the amygdala and hippocampus (Mercola, 2015).   Music has a similar ability. That is because “listening to music engages broad neural networks in the brain, including brain regions responsible for motor actions, emotions, and creativity” (Bergland, 2013). The connection between music and memories is even being studied in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia.   A good source for more information about this link between music, memory and the treatment of Alzheimer’s is the Music & Memory website: musicandmemory.org .

For me, one example of the link between smell, music, and memory starts off with the smell of freshly baked bread on a fall day.   This smell brings up some really positive emotions for me.  However, part of that memory is associated with music. Specifically, these memories are associated with John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High album.   The interesting thing for me is that the music brings back more of those positive memories than the smell of fresh bread. So, I think the power of music wins out over smell in my world.

Anyways, this post revolves around that radio and music.  However, this post is about a music genre on the other side of the spectrum for John Denver.

Here is the scene:

It is a little after 9:00 pm and I am driving home.  I am traveling that same two-lane highway through the rural countryside that I always travel. It was warm for a late February evening and there was fog rolling across the roads.  I had just left my second job and after a 14 hour day, I was tired.

20 minutes into my travels, I finally decompressed enough to begin to notice the radio.  It is a little scary that you actually drive that far and be stuck in your head enough that you don’t recognize what music is playing in the car.  I wasn’t into the evening’s NPR selection and I resorted to my normal routine of flipping channels.  After a few minutes, I landed on the Punk Rock channel called “Faction”.  I often listen to this station in the morning but had rarely listened at this time of day.  It turned out to be good timing because the station had Marky Ramone (drummer from the Ramones) sitting in as the DJ for a weekly show called Punk Rock Blitzkrieg.  Amazing!

I was digging the stream of new and older punk rock tunes that Marky was playing, but my favorite song of the night was the Sex Pistols doing a cover of the classic song “(I’m not your) Stepping Stone”.

“(I’m not your) Stepping Stone”, which was originally recorded in 1966 by Paul Revere and the Raiders, has quite the history over covers.  Several bands including The Monkees, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Minor Threat have all recorded their own versions of this song.

The Sex Pistols’ cover of “(I’m not your) Stepping Stone” is not the most melodious version of the song, but it is as good as any punk rock version.

YouTube has recording of the song with a still montage (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXd8qnONDIk)

And here is a version from a 2016 a reunion show. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMpbEp71nC8).

The Sex Pistol’s version was released in 1979 on The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle album.  The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle album also included some other covers including: “Johnny B Goode” originally by Chuck Berry, “Substitute” by Pete Townsend (The Who), and “My Way” by Paul Anka, Claude François, Jacques Revaux.  (Frank Sinatra’s 1969 version of “My Way” is probably the best known rendition of this song.)

An interesting side note is that The Sex Pistols also released a movie in 1979-1980 also called The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle.  The movie is a:

a stylized fictional account of the formation, rise and subsequent breakup of the band, from the point of view of their then-manager Malcolm McLaren. In the film, McLaren claims to create the Sex Pistols and manipulate them to the top of the music business, using them as puppets to both further his own agenda (in his own words: “Cash for chaos”), and to claim the financial rewards from the various record labels the band were signed to during their brief history – EMI, A&M, Virgin, and Warner Bros. Records. (Wikipedia, 2017, The_Great_Rock ‘N’ Roll_Swindle)

I remember watching this movie at my parent’s house when I was about 15 or so.  Not sure how I got my hands on a copy of this video because it sure wasn’t at the local video store.

In 2006 The Sex Pistols were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  However, they did not attend the ceremony.  Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) instead wrote this note and posted it on thefilthandthefury.co.uk,

Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We’re not coming. We’re not your monkeys. If you voted for us, hope you noted your reasons. Your anonymous as judges but your still music industry people. We’re not coming. Your not paying attention. Outside the shit-stream is a real Sex Pistol. (Quoted in Sprague, 2006)

Really, the point of this whole thing is nostalgia.  For some reason, the Sex Pistols and The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle bring up positive memories for me.  The Sex Pistols were probably one of the first bands that really got me into music and got me into researching the story behind the music.  The Sex Pistols were also one of those bands that helped me forge my own identity and made music relevant.  Kind of funny thinking about this now.  A band that came from a completely different world than my suburban New England upbringing would have such an impact on my adolescence.   But they did and those were some good times indeed.


Works Cited:

Bergland, C. (2013). Why Do the Songs from Your Past Evoke Such Vivid Memories? Psychology Today. Retrieved March 5, 2017 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-do-the-songs-your-past-evoke-such-vivid-memories.

Mercola. (2015). Why Smells Can Trigger Strong Memories. Retrieved March 5, 2017 from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/06/smells-trigger-memories.aspx

Sprague, D. (2006) “Sex Pistols Flip Off Hall of Fame”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 4, 2017 from https://web.archive.org/web/20080217032318/http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/9385165/sex_pistols_flip_off_hall_of_fame

Wikipedia (2017) “The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle”. Retrieved March 4, 2017 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Rock_%27n%27_Roll_Swindle

Wikipedia (2016). “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone”. Retrieved March 4, 2017 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(I’m_Not_Your)_Steppin’_Stone

Wikipedia (2017). “Sex Pistols”. Retrieved March 4, 2017 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_Pistols


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